The DCI 981′s are an alternative to the hugely popular DCI 990′s. They provide a small, but readily detectible bit of additional user-friendliness over the more blade-like 990′s. This handsome set of irons has developed an enthusiastic following of its own that includes many mid handicappers and tournament level players as well.
The DCI 981′s are a friendlier set of irons. They have not been subjected to the same sort contradictory reaction that we have seen concerning the DCI 990. But, as with other Titleist clubs, we can’t always find unbiased opinions from outside sources to use in verifying our own.
Alignment is almost as intuitive with the 981′s as it is with the 990′s. Good hits are surprisingly sweet for a cast stainless steel head with a shallow cavity. Our results have been very pleasing and good. The regular flex version will appeal to many mid handicappers who want a serious iron that provides a good comfort level. Many older and slower swing speed low handicappers will find it appealing as well. A DCI 981 SL version is also available for those with slow swing speeds.
The differences between the 990′s and 981′s are immediately apparent. The topline is slightly thicker than on the 990′s. There is a moderate amount of progressive offset in both sets. It is more pronounced in the 981′s, but is still not large enough to seriously throw off most good golfers. The weight has been lowered in the cavity to increase the height of the trajectory. The shaft lengths for the 981′s are close to 1/2″ longer than in the 990′s. This gives an extra boost to yardage. The short irons have had their lofts reduced by one to two degrees for the same reason.
In the stiffer flexes, these clubs take on a different character. Their serious playing qualities come more to the fore and their user-friendly qualities become less obvious. Thin hits remind the player that these are not really game improvement irons. Instead, they are are players’ irons with forgiving qualities added. The cavity design is a good one, but it is shallow and provides only moderate help on mishits. Inconsistent ball strikers who do not routinely hit the center of the face will find friendlier irons available to them elsewhere. Still, in both stiff and regular flex, the 981′s provide a very pleasant sensation at impact. As with the 990′s, they feel sweet and pure when struck solidly – a very satisfying feel. Mishits communicate directly. Thin hits can be unpleasant and harsh feeling.
Hitting these Titleist’s has been a rewarding experience for our testers so far. Trajectories have high and very straight. Distances have been average to good. So far, workability seems good, but that is almost a given with Titleist DCI’s. One tester has complained of the tendency to go left on the mid irons due to the offset, but he is partial to zero offset irons.
Strangely, the tester with the least accurate patterns in comparison hitting is a young assistant pro who plays the DCI’s. He still prefers them to other irons and insists that the mistakes are his fault, not the 981′s. He is a Titleist staff member, so we have to discount his declarations of fidelity. He has actually produced better results with numerous other irons.
Our other testers have been getting exceedingly fine results, however. Playability has been good from light rough and hardpan. We are all impressed by the look, feel and fit and finish on the DCI line in general. The 981′s seem to be an excellent “compromise” iron – serious, but a little bit reassuring for inconsistent types. High-handicappers will probably want a friendlier iron, but mid-handicappers looking to step up to a ‘serious’ set of forgiving performance irons should consider the 981′s.